After all the studying, the OE, and the child rearing – if you are anything like me, you will wake up one day and know that you want more. You want to read again. You want to talk to people about something other than breastfeeding and toilet training. It comes to you in a flash – you will join a book club.
You are not alone in this. Curious as to how many book clubs there are in Christchurch, I phoned around the local bookstores, contacted the WEA Book Discussion Scheme and, finally, sucked the left hand opposable digit. I estimate that Christchurch has at least 300 clubs, with an average of 10 members each: that’s over 3000 book clubbers. There’s even a male book club, but no mixed gender book clubs that I know of ….yet.
With so many of them around, you’d think it would be like falling off a blog to join a ready-made group. But over 30 years, in three book clubs (Cape Town, Durban and Christchurch) I’ve always had to start them from scratch. Need some help with this? Have a look at Christchurch City Libraries’ new book clubs web page which is full of useful tips.
What’s the appeal? It’s the discovery and sharing of great reads and new authors. But there is a lot more to it than that. For starters, creating your own book group means that you have a degree of event control beyond your wildest dreams. I have three non-negotiables:
- I will not bake for my book club meeting
- That said, I like a book club where all the other members are great bakers
- And this is the weird one: I will not read Jodi Picoult (the reasons for this are shrouded in the mists of time and don’t bear terribly close scrutiny)
Truth is: it’s your book club, you can do what you like. You can read prizewinning authors or trashy romances, meet in cafés or at home, eat vegan snacks, drink only red wine, have no books at all and use only e-readers. All you need is a small group of reasonably like-minded readers and you are on your way. Besides the obvious book talk, a book club can be a comfort through life’s challenging times: raising kids, divorces, marriages, career switches and ageing parents. We’re getting older ourselves – at last month’s meeting, arthritis had its little moment in the spotlight.
There are even books about book clubs:
- The Jane Austen Book Club (Karen Fowler)
- The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society (Mary Ann Shaffer)
- The Book Club (Mary Alice Monroe)
- Or No! I Don’t Want to Join a Bookclub by Virginia Ironside.
Even though we don’t always agree on a book (and passions can run high), my book club is my Happy Place and my book club ladies, world-wide, are my friends. You can’t say better than that now, can you?